Jill Schultz, Sr. Editor - Transportation Safety
July 26, 2021
Driver retention has always been an Achilles heel for the trucking industry. Driver shortages and high turnover rates have been the norm for years. But driver retention will become an even more critical issue in the future as driver shortages and turnover rates are expected to climb dramatically over the next several years.
Bonuses, pay increases, and other perks are being used to attract drivers, but what can motor carriers do to separate themselves from the pack and not just attract — but retain — these drivers?
One tool that motor carriers should include in their retention arsenal is training.
Career drivers are looking for carriers that are committed to their employees. This includes a commitment to a culture of safe and compliant operations.
An established and consistent training program demonstrates this commitment. It shows prospective and current drivers that a company is serious about establishing a culture of safety – that safety is a top priority. This in turn, can foster loyalty within the company.
When working with a diverse group of drivers, including new and experienced drivers, the motor carrier must consider the needs of and tailor its training to each of these groups.
All new drivers, from the individual fresh out of driving school to the veteran driver who is new to the motor carrier, should complete new driver training. Why? Because it lays down the motor carrier’s expectations before the driver hits the road. It provides consistent messaging and can help in undoing improper driving technique and resolve misunderstood compliance issues.
Consistent, recurrent training is also important for a motor carrier’s experienced drivers — those who have been with a motor carrier and operating its vehicles for at least one year.
Even the most experienced driver needs to review regulatory requirements and defensive driving techniques on a regular basis. A review of regulatory requirements ensures experienced drivers have a current and consistent understanding of pertinent requirements. A review of defensive driving techniques assists in reminding drivers of the correct driving skills and good habits that should followed.
Brief coaching sessions or corrective action training should be conducted in addition to regularly scheduled training. This brief, one-on-one session with a driver is often triggered by an accident, incident, violation, or complaint. This type of training needs to be focused specifically on the individual driver’s problem or issue.
An established and consistent driver training program for all of a motor carrier’s drivers helps to establish a solid safety culture. The expectation of safe and compliant operations can attract and maintain professional drivers.
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